Warnock's and Ossoff's wins signal hope and real change for some Black residents in Georgia
Posted January 6, 2021 7:59 p.m. EST
CNN — As a fellow Morehouse College graduate, Patrick Delisser feels inspired by Rev. Raphael Warnock's historic Senate victory.
Delisser, a 32-year-old urgent care doctor, said Warnock embodies the will of Black men and HBCU graduates to beat the odds.
"This is an exciting time, this is monumental," said Delisser, who is also Warnock's Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity brother. "HBCUs put us in positions that people aren't aware of, and Warnock shows people what we can achieve."
Delisser is among the Black Georgia voters celebrating Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff flipping two Senate seats that will give Democrats control of the Senate since Vice president-elect Kamala Harris will have the tie-breaking vote. Warnock and Ossoff will be the first Black and Jewish senators, respectively, to represent Georgia.
Supporters and organizers were optimistic that Democrats gaining control of the Senate would result in passing legislation that benefits Black Americans. Black voters say they want to see racial justice, police accountability, expanded health care access and an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted Black communities.
Warnock and Ossoff campaigned on ending the coronavirus crisis in order to reopen the economy. They also pushed for debt-free public college and a new Voting Rights Act.
Grassroots organizers also rejoiced Wednesday after Warnock's and Ossoff's wins, saying months of canvassing in Georgia paid off.
LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said Wednesday she felt both "resolved" and "hopeful."
"Black folks rose to the occasion," Brown told CNN. "Pressure has a way that it can crush you or it can propel you. We took our trauma and our pain and we created possibilities."
The excitement around Warnock's and Ossoff's victories was clouded Wednesday when protesters who refuse to accept President Donald Trump's election loss stormed the Capitol where Congress was certifying President-elect Joe Biden's win.
Brown said she was "angry" to see the unrest.
"White folks have so much privilege and there is so much deference to White power and there is such a tolerance for racism that you see them storm what is historically the seat of power," Brown said. "I've seen them be more aggressive with peaceful (Black Lives Matter) protesters. But that is indicative of how this country continues to coddle White supremacy."
Evan Wayne Malbrough, founder of the Georgia Youth Poll Worker Project, said Warnock's and Ossoff's wins showed a shift in Black progressives who organized and made sure their voices were heard at the polls.
The organizing, including Malbrough's efforts to recruit young poll workers for communities in need, led to higher turnout and improved voter access, Malbrough said.
"It's great to see that all the work paid off by so many people," Malbrough said. "It's great to see a win in Georgia."
National spotlight on Georgia race
Warnock and Ossoff were celebrated beyond the state, with supporters from across the US recognizing what the wins meant for Black Americans and political control in Washington.
Angeanette Thibodeaux, of Houston, has spent the last three months in Georgia canvassing voters. Thibodeaux, who organized with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, knocked on doors, registered voters, distributed information about early voting and offered voters rides to the polls.
Thibodeaux said she was determined to help Warnock and Ossoff because of their promise to fight for Black Americans. Black people, she said, need affordable health care and jobs.
"We are so energized and empowered just to see this historic turnout," she said. "We feel like the mission has been accomplished."
Warnock and Ossoff are following in the footsteps of earlier civil rights heroes from Georgia who fought for equality.
Warnock is senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. Warnock often speaks out from the pulpit about racial injustice. Ossoff said he was the protégé of the late Rep. John Lewis, who championed voting rights.
The Rev. Al Sharpton was among the civil rights leaders who applauded Warnock and Ossoff.
Sharpton, who heads the National Action Network, said in a statement that the record turnout demonstrated the "strength of our democracy and Georgians' determination to use their right to vote to determine their futures."
"Georgia electing its first Black Senator-elect and first Jewish American Senator-elect in our time is a sign of a new America. We are bringing America back to where we ought to be and moving forward towards change," Sharpton said.